Monthly Archives: March 2009

Guerrilla Gardening as Artistic Sabotage – by Emmett

sedumSince 2004, Richard Reynolds has been stealing out at night in London, gardening tools in hand, and reclaiming the city’s sidewalks, medians, and ditches into flowerbeds, vegetable patches, and orchards. At the same time Reynolds started a blog about his exploits, which eventually formed into the crossroads of an extant world-wide movement of guerrilla gardening. Last year he published a manifesto on gardening where you’re not supposed to. The self-defined guerrilla gardening movement has its roots in the histories of migrant workers and agrarian communists, yet the modern movement’s motives take it not towards the disruption of its society (as in the case of the Diggers—the agrarian communists), but the beautification of it. What defines this movement above other “guerrilla” movements is its vivacity, rhetoric of growth over upheaval, and above all, art. Continue reading

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Filed under America, Art, Politics

The Acknowledged Need: Americorps Lives – by Emmett


On Thursday, the Senate came to an agreement on an issue which had become unnecessarily partisan in the past four years: the state of American public service. I don’t know whether this signals a change in bipartisan communication in the Senate as a result of the Obama Administration’s motions towards including the Republican minority or more concrete evidence that the late economic unpleasantness is finally getting Democrats and Republicans to have  a concerted dialogue. Continue reading

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Nagori Yuki, Late Snow – by Melissa

Ume BlossomsOn the Boy Scout Trail, in the Redwood National Forest, 12 miles from coastal Crescent City, California, and 27  from the Oregon border, an informational sign at the 6 meter wide base of a fallen tree explains that the Redwoods are gregarious trees. Their shallow root system, relative to their massive hundred meter heights, requires them to live in groves.  Their long roots grow shallow but reach out to neighboring roots, wrapping and coiling, and eventually growing together in order to support the upright weight of a community of trees which average 600 years old. In May, when Emmett and I crossed the country to meet these trees, I imagined them holding hands underground, fully aware of their reliance on each other.

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Filed under Art, For the Love of Japan, Japan, Language, Laos

Swirling Vortex of Doom Becoming Worse – by Emmett

Yes, that’s right, there is a swirling vortex out there and it is definitely of doom. Currently making a massive galaxy-like rotation in the North Pacific is a vortex of trash somwhere between 700,000 km2 and 15 million km2, most of it plastic. Because of the intense confluence of ocean currents in the North Pacific, trash from all over the world is sucked into this central location. Continue reading

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Filed under Japan, News, The Apocalypse

The Victory of the White House Garden – by Emmett

There were some stirrings in the news this week about Michelle Obama planting a vegetable garden in the White House grounds. According to the Huffington Post, she broke ground on it today. Arguing that the White House’s main ambition in gardening is a public stunt to illustrate their commitment to all things “green” is perhaps the first inclination of the critic, yet there is a whole lot more going on here. Continue reading

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Filed under News, Politics

Cyber Homeless in Japan

image courtesy of the BBCHomelessness in Japan looks a bit different. I remember our first night in Tokyo, walking around Shinjuku and seeing tidily maintained groups of elderly homeless men under a bridge, each with all of their belongings neatly stowed in plastic containers and lashed to push carts, ready to move. Each had a recent haircut and many had cats leashed to the carts. Just last month, Melissa and I came upon a shanty town underneath a bridge in Kyoto and it looked like a small city: each person had his own organized space, cabinets and drawers neatly converted to small rooms. They, too, had cats.

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Haruki Murakami Accepting the Jerusalem Prize – by Emmett

In February, Japanese fiction luminary Haruki Murakami traveled to Israel to accept the Jerusalem Prize. Murakami had doubts about accepting the award, which honors the freedom of the individual in society, for good reasons. Israel had recently launched its overpowered offensive on the Gaza strip; he rightly felt ambivalent about the implications of being the new literary son of Israel. Continue reading

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Filed under Books, Fiction, Inspiration!, Japan, Literature, News, Reading